Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Organising Chaos

I'm travelling to the UK again tomorrow. It ha been an on-again/off-again trip for the last couple of weeks. But it looks like it is now most definitely on. Eeek! Totally not ready, but flailing about and trying my best. My first priority is what to do with my hands, both at Dan's parents house and during the long boat and train journey from Dublin to Cheltenham. Not having hand stitching to do simply isn't an option. I don't want to bring my knitting gear as too many items are involved, and at the moment I am at my happiest when hand stitching. 

I decided against bringing the Swoon, as hand quilting an 80" square is way too hard to handle in a small space, so this morning I settled on a back-up plan. I am officially starting another hexagon project! I just need to select a bunch of fabrics to play with. That is actually really hard for me. I really struggle with spontaneous fabric play, as I worry a lot about using too much of something I later find an awesome plan for. But I'm trying to be a bit less anxious about it. It is fabric, and I know I can buy more.

I will be using some 1" hexy papers I have to hand, and I want to use fabrics that feel like summer and sunshine and joy. Definitely pinks and yellows, maybe plum and chocolates. Low-volume mixers. Like vanilla ice-cream with hot fudge and sprinkles. If it were a recipe it would taste like this. Hopefully suitable fabrics will be selected and packed by teatime. I am not even thinking about clothes packing at this point. Still need to pick up some toiletries and snacks from town.

In the interests of providing a sense of structure and organisation for myself, I'll just leave this here....

Janey's Quilty Plans 2013!

~Projects involving fabrics I'm already hoarding which I really want to sew this year.
~ WIPs I really need to finish this year.

~ Over halfway through hand-quilting. I see this one being done by Summer.

2. Hexy MF.
~ Coming together nicely. I'm ok with this one being slow. I love sewing hexagons. Not enough piecing left to justify bringing it on my trip, hence new start.

3. Scrap Republic Volume Quilt.
~ My tiny scrap project. Slowly building blocks for this. 

4. Marcelle Medallion.
~ Piecing progressing. Going to send out for quilting the second it is done. Concerned about wonk but hoping it will quilt out.

5. Pacific Northwest Seascape Fantasy Quilt.
~ Currently a stack of fabrics, inspired by this artist, I'm planning to make this quilt. The back will be Sketch flannel in Coffee, and I will send it out for quilting.

6. Wonky House Quilt.
~ Inspired by 'The 'Burbs' from Material Obsession. Most likely using Denyse Schmidt prints for my houses (and pine trees) and a scrappy low volume background.

7. Giant Star Quilt.
~ This top will become the back for another quilt, probably a scrappy string quilt.

8. Folksy Flannel Patchwork Pillow-covers.
~ For my big square Ikea pillows. Will make simple patchwork squares and machine quilt them.

9. Scrap Vomit Quilt.
~ I pieced this top last week. Planning on backing it in a medley of scrap and making a picnic blanket.

I think that might be everything?

I'll be back home in a week, possibly a few days more than a week. I want Dan to be able to spend time with his family, and a break will be nice. My store is on vacation currently but I'll answer convos whenever I can get online.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Little Progress

My Marcelle Medallion quilt this morning. I am currently working on border 5, brickwork. Not too bad, but at this point the quilt is too big to measure easily and getting my borders to the right length is proving tricky. I'm also very aware of wonkiness in the narrow aqua border (border 3). This is causing a bit of a bubbling issue which I really hope will work out once the quilt is quilted. All in all, I love the pattern and I love picking the fabrics for each section, but I'm feeling a bit overly challenged by this project and am looking forward to finishing it and sending it out for quilting.

Apart from slowly building my medallion, I'm doing a lot of reading this week. I was very sad to hear that James Herbert passed away last Wednesday. He was a favourite author of mine and will be sadly missed. I'm listening to 'The Fog' while I stitch my stitches. It might be my favourite Herbert novel, if only because it was the first that I ever read. I always enjoy all his books though. He had a knack for inserting contemporary life into horror which felt perfectly natural to me. Most of the horror I read was written a couple of generations before my time, so I fear the contemporary references are somewhat lost on me. But I think that the little references in Herbert's work leave the reader with a similar sense of normality and comfort to those experienced by contemporary (to the writer) M.R. James readers, for example.

Also in the literary vein, I'm going to see Dan Brown in May :) He will be holding a talk in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on May 20th. Billed a 'An Evening with Dan Brown', I have of course subtitled it (in my head) 'An Audience with Robert Langdon', and needless to say I am stupidly excited! Re-reading all the Robert Langdon novels in anticipation. 

I'm housebound today as I injured my foot walking too hard. Hoping it heals by Thursday as I'm off to Cheltenham to see Dan's family. Totally panicking about this. They run a very tidy house and I'm trying to think of a stitchy project I can bring to work on which won't result in a huge mess. Tempted to bring the Swoon but worried it won't go down well.

Friday, 22 March 2013

My Derma Toolkit

Back again :) Trying my best to be productive today. Got to keep moving! Anyway  I am excited to share a project I finished this morning. I finished two projects this morning, but one is still top secret!

I made this Noodlehead Wide Mouth Pouch to hold a few tools which I find helpful in dealing with my skin-picking. It was important to me to have a special bag which I would love and be likely to use everyday, so I chose my favourite hot air balloon fabric. Those smiley balloons perfectly represent the feelings of peace, hope and optimism I need. I lined my pouch with cherry sketch print and used another print from Handle With Care to fussy cut a hexagon for the zip tab. The reverse of the tab has a snippet of Happy Thoughts text print.

Going to talk a little bit about my plan to control my dermatillomania now.

In my pouch I like to keep back-up cotton gloves, wet wipes, antibacterial lotion and moisturiser. My main tactic for fighting my derma right now is minimising the contact between my finger tips and the rest of my skin. So, in risky situations, such as at the computer or reading, I'll be wearing my cotton gloves. They are the single most useful tool I have ever found for myself. Currently, I am also wearing them to sleep in. And I don't care how silly that looks :) I keep plenty of wet wipes to hand to keep my skin clean without touching it, and in case of uncontrollable itches. Theoretically, apart from in the shower and applying ointment and moisturiser, I should never be touching my skin.

This plan is working really well, but it has a problem. If I choose to be in a situation where my wearing gloves would be too awkward, and it's too dark/inappropriate to be knitting or stitching. Part of operation 'improve quality of life' involves me going out more. My favourite type of 'out' is probably the cinema. And in the cinema I would wear my gloves, so not a problem. But sometimes, such as last night, at a gig in town, I can't wear gloves. Obviously, I *could*, but the likelihood of awkward questions is a bit much for me. So I need to figure out a way of distracting my hands so I don't pick. Last night there was picking. I think that the enjoyment of being 'out' made the picking setback a justifiable cost, but I clearly need a better plan for next time. Some sort of touchy toy that I can keep in my hands constantly to occupy both fingertips and brain. Not sure just what that is yet unfortunately. Another option would be too acquire 'night out gloves'. They need to be lightweight and pretty enough that keeping them on all night won't look weird. I'm going to have a look in town later and see if anything might suit.

So far you'll see that I'm concentrating on building a barrier between me and my skin. Those who don't have derma, or any other compulsive disorder, might be thinking that this is a rather impractical approach. Over the many years I have tried practically every approach  apart from  being more open. My previous need to keep my derma secret meant I was doomed to fail, as any coping tools had to be hidden in company, and no amount of will power alone ever worked for me. But I really think that physically stopping myself from picking will eventually make my will power stronger too. I see it as creating 'pods' of time without picking. A few hours with literally no picking makes me feel so much stronger  At the moment, I most definitely need a physical barrier to create these 'pods'. I'm not prepared to look ahead right now, just coping with each day on it's own merit.

My short term aim is to let the skin on my calves heal to the point where I can get the tattoos I've always wanted. I have never ever been tempted to pick my other tattoo so I'm fairly sure that, once tattooed, my legs would become something more that just a surface to pick at and would hopefully be safe. Claimed back for my own, if that makes sense. And (though I never ever look at my legs these days to avoid any temptation) I believe they are getting close to normal in skin texture. And I feel really proud of that.

And now it's time for my walk. Finally seems to have stopped raining!

Tula Pink Glasses

So, a few weeks ago, just after my London trip, I picked up my new glasses. A glasses update was desperately needed as my old ones were a world of scratches and I couldn't see well through them with the interference. I am extremely short-sighted, as-well as partially blind in my right eye, so I figured I deserve nice glasses. I now have two new pairs, but I think this pair might be my favourite. As soon a I tried them on I fell in love. The remind me a lot of the ones Tula Pink wears. I wore them for the first time yesterday and wanted to show them off, hence being a big brave bear and taking some photos.

A note about photos, and my face in general. At the moment I am going without make-up. Up until this month I would rarely go out in public without using make-up to camouflage my skin blemishes. I would most certainly never have a camera near me or go for a night out without my 'human disguise' as I like to call it. But, as part of operation 'make life better and fix my god-damn derma'* I have quit make-up for now. A few reasons... 

~ Time. My derma takes up literally hours of everyday of my life. I would dearly like to claim some of those hours back for me, so I'm starting with the time I would normally spend hiding my skin damage.

~ I recently had my septum pierced and am worried about make-up related germs causing it problems. It seemed easier just to go without until it has healed. Getting a new piercing was something very liberating I could do for myself, that in itself makes me happy.

~ No longer feeling shame about the way my face/skin generally looks. I know I have caused this damage myself, I totally own that. But I no longer feel the need to hide my problem from other people. I want to be more open in hopes that I can finally break this cycle, and pretending my skin was fine has never really helped.

I'm just going to leave these photos here and run-away for now. It's lunchtime and I'm looking forward to cereal. I'll hopefully be back later to share more about other aspects of my care plan. I have decided to keep blogging here, as I have no wish to separate any of the facets of my life and I really like blogging here.

*Project code name subject to change at whims of Janey with no notice whatsoever.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Works In Progress

I have finally stopped working on my Marcelle Medallion long enough to take photos! I'm really happy with it so far, though it has become a bit of an obsession, and selecting fabrics for it is turning my studio upside down! I started on Friday and am currently working on border 4 (the Geese of DOOM!) I haven't actually sewn them yet, still cutting out my fabrics, but I am a wee bit nervous!

Anyway, I love this project so far, and am enjoying being challenged by piecing I normally wouldn't consider. The relatively small sections make things like tiny flying geese and y-seams seem achievable, and so far I am achieving just fine. That grey floral print in my centre star background is a Liberty poplin. It's really pretty and adds just the touch of Liberty whimsy this quilt needed. I'm trying not to think to far ahead and select fabrics for each section as I get there, but I do want to incorporate a Field Study Leopard print and more of the hot pink Tula Pink swallows before I'm done. Backing will be my favourite Chicopee print, Heat Wave in Citrine.

Spent a really nice bank-holiday weekend here with Dan. We didn't do anything much. Medallion for me and Minecraft for him. But we did make gluten free caramel shortbreads yesterday. With a particularly decadent marbled chocolate top. That dark chocolate is 95% cocoa! A bit darker than I usually like but it works well with the caramel. Makes coffee time feel like quite a treat!

Back to the studio with me, hoping to finish another Medallion border today!

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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Good Things About Today

~ My copy of Elizabeth Hartman's Modern Patchwork arrived!
~ Siddy cat is by my side, and she seems to like the project I'm quilting.
~ Said project is turning out really cute, but its a secret project, so unfortunately I'm not able to share yet!
~ Going out with Dan tonight and have already picked my outfit.
~ New fabric conditioner has made the laundry smell awesome :)

No pictures right now, but wanted to write something anyway. I'm feeling a lot more secure here. It finally feels like Spring is trying to break through.

Something that is on my mind...

I'm considering splitting my blogging in two, starting a more personal blog and keeping his one for the crafty stuff. Not sure yet. Basically, I want to be more open about my skin picking disorder (dermatillomania). This is something I am trying desperately to gain control of at the moment and it feels like the right time for me to come out about it more publicly. I actually feel closer to stopping than I ever have before, and this is making me feel confident enough to talk about it. Also, reading the blogs of others has been hugely helpful to me, and I want to take that step myself. I don't feel in any way ashamed of my disorder at this stage in my life, so I don't want to hide it any-more.  I don't want to force anyone to hear about it if they would rather not, however. Hence the blog splitting plans.

For the rest of today, I intend to make a start on fabric selections for two new quilts, and get some walking in. I'm planing on starting the popular Marcelle Medallion quilt from Liberty Love, as well as an improvisational (and still very vague) idea I have in my head. I'll be using the same low volume prints for the negative space in both projects, so I figured I could work on them together.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Longest Winter Ever

This time last year it was unseasonably hot. I remember sitting in my yard in bare legs and hot pants, just knitting in the sunshine and feeling blissfully happy. And this morning, March 12th 2013, it was -4ÂșC. It also snowed yesterday.

Things here are going ok. I'm a bit miserable as my thumb nail has begun the slow and painful process of falling off. I squished it in a door frame last Halloween and it's taken it this long to grow out. I basically have no right thumb nail right now, which is slowing down my sewing a bit. But I have just finished my last knitting commission for the moment, so I can give myself more time to get my own work done. My thumb is quite horrific looking. I can't even bear to photograph it.

Hoping to get to Cheltenham to visit with Dan's family at the end of the month. Not 100% sure, but hoping it can be arranged.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Dear little blog, I have things to tell you today. Because I don't have anyone else to talk to and I feel like sharing might help.

Things are not very good around here. My partner and I both love each other very much (this I believe completely), but we both have so much sadness and are entirely failing at communicating. Last night he told me he has secret sadnesses he cannot talk to me about, and I am so scared of losing him. I just wish I could help, and that we could both be happy again.

I have various problems which have kept me from socialising normally and meeting people, thus I have no-one in real life I would be able to talk to. I am entirely overwhelmed by everything and don't know what I should be doing.

The suckiest thing from my (admittedly warped and dis-functional) point of view is that I have recently been actively trying to make the situation better. I really was trying. I have re-gained a lot of physical health this past year and was feeling a lot more confident as a result. It takes me so long to make any progress though I worry I have waited too long to start being a proper girlfriend.

I am slowly finishing up some dolly knits and waiting for Dan to come home. Really hoping things can finally get better and so scared that they won't. Want him to know how much I care, even if I don't show it properly.